Meeting new families is one of my favorite parts of my job. Touring prospective parents around our program is always a pleasure. One question that is frequently asked is “Are you accredited? I don’t really know what that means, but I know that I should ask.” FUMP is nationally accredited by the National Accreditation Commission for Early Care and Education Programs, also known as NAC Accreditation.
What is accreditation? Accreditation is provided by an organization that inspects child care programs. The types of accreditation can be based on criteria set forth by the agency – high quality child care programs, religious curriculum, etc. While we are licensed by the state of Texas, their standards cover only the basic of care, rather than looking at quality of care. Accreditation signifies an example of excellence in the field of child care.
What type of accreditation does FUMP hold? NAC is sponsored and governed by the Association of Early Learning Leaders. In our accreditation, the agency selected over 90 standards and 300 criteria regarding high quality child care: teacher-child interaction, curriculum, health and safety, professional development of teachers, family engagement and the administration of the program. The standards are based on the best practices in child care, and are research-based and field-tested criteria.
What does accreditation entail? Every three years, we have a thorough, two-day visit from a NAC representative, who inspects our program on the items listed above.
After the visit, the findings are sent to the Commission who reviews and make a decision regarding accreditation. Further, we submit an annual report which includes our current practices, professional development overview and plans for improvement.
Also, First United Methodist Preschool is certified by Texas Rising Star via the Texas Workforce Commission. The Texas Rising Star program was developed to assist families in finding high-quality child care centers throughout the State of Texas. Through a branch of WorkForce Solutions, child care centers are recognized for high-quality, and FUMP has been certified since 2008. We work closely with a representative of Texas Rising Star, who visits our program twice per year and gives teachers individual feedback on interactions, curriculum and classroom management. Also, we receive grant funds for program equipment and materials, as well as free training for teachers.
What does this mean for my child? It means that your child receives the highest quality preschool experience, not merely based on our definition of “high quality.” Having an outside authority involved in this type of oversight has multiple benefits: it keeps a school accountable for maintaining quality over time (which is important after 38 years of operation!), provides a framework for self-improvement through annual reports and inspections, and keeps educators appraised of current trends in our field by providing training, publications and advocacy regarding early childhood education. The umbrella of support from NAC is a key factor in allowing us to maintain the excellence you have come to expect from FUMP.
If you would like to learn more about the Association of Early Learning Leaders and/or the National Accreditation Commission, please check out their website: www.earlylearningleaders.org.